View Full Version : Bulgarian parliament acts to allow U.S. bases

22 Dec 03,, 04:01
Bulgarian parliament acts to allow U.S. bases

Associated Press

SOFIA, Bulgaria — An overwhelming majority of legislators on Friday adopted a declaration in support of setting up permanent U.S. military bases in Bulgaria.
The legislature voted 200-3 to endorse the document, which says Bulgaria is ready “to contribute to the efforts of the international community to handle the new threats and challenges for the global security.”

Parliament also reaffirmed the country’s wish for “wider and deeper strategic partnership and cooperation with the United States as one of the main priorities of Bulgaria’s foreign policy.”

U.S. officials have suggested they may move troops from bases in Germany to new locations in Eastern Europe. Washington is interested in small, flexible bases, different from those set up to house large numbers of troops during the Cold War.

Last week, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith discussed with Bulgarian government officials the possible deployment of U.S. troops to bases in this Balkan country, which gave the United States staunch support during the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism. Bulgaria is among seven eastern European countries to join NATO next year.

Bulgaria contributed an airport handling flights during the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq and has a 485-soldier infantry battalion stationed among coalition forces in Iraq. During the war against Iraq, the airport of Sarafovo was used as a base for U.S. tanker aircraft.

Along with the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, Sarafovo is considered important because it is closer to the Middle East than other European bases and because of fairly good road, rail and sea links.

U.S. military officials have also toured Bulgarian air force bases and land-force practice grounds.